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5 Tips: How to Give Employee Performance Reviews

By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD on March 05, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

As a business owner, it's up to you to give performance reviews to your employees, and next to actually having to fire an employee, it ranks up there with "stuff I'd rather not do." But, to be a truly effective employer it's necessary to give your employees the feedback that will make them better at their jobs, and make your business more successful overall.

If you're used to being on the receiving end of performance reviews, and need some help on how to approach them, here are five tips to keep in mind.

1. Keep it Real

And by real, we mean honest. In fact, this may be the hardest part about conducting performance reviews, even though it's the most important aspect of giving feedback according to the Harvard Business Review. According to the HBR, lack of honesty "not only prevents the organization from improving, but also stymies individual development."

2. Keep it Balanced

That is, you need to give both positive and negative feedback. Don't just focus on what the employee does great because then what is left for her to improve? On the flip side, don't just focus on the negative, because that could demoralize some employees.

3. Keep it Professional

You probably don't need reminding, but especially in a performance review setting, it's of the utmost importance to keep things professional. Leave the colorful language at the door, and focus on improvement.

4. Keep it Boring

Boring, as in, there should be no surprising plot twists at the employee review, according to Forbes. If you have negative feedback, your employee should have some inclination that it's coming. First, you should always give some informal feedback when your employee messes up to keep further mistakes from happening. Second, if the mistake is that bad, hopefully you've already started establishing a paper trail that the employee is aware of.

5. Keep it Open

One of the most important things you can do in a performance review setting is to keep communication open. Remember, the review should be a conversation, you shouldn't be doing all the talking. Ask the employee you are reviewing to analyze their own performance as well, and build a plan for how the employee can improve.

Conducting performance reviews are definitely not the most fun thing to do, but they are necessary for any law firm to improve and grow. It may be difficult at first, but for reviews to be effective, and worth the time and stress, you must be honest so that everyone is on the same page as far as expectations and performance.

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